Question and Answer session with Mari D., lead vascular ultrasound technologist at South Valley Vascular.
What is the doctor looking for when he orders an ultrasound?
At South Valley Vascular, our doctors and providers order ultrasounds to examine the arteries and veins of the legs. We also perform ultrasounds for patients with carotid artery disease, aortic aneurysms, and patients on dialysis.
What are the different types of lower extremity (leg) ultrasounds?
A. Standing Venous Reflux Ultrasound
1. This is the main study we perform in patients with varicose veins.
2. The technologist uses special techniques during the ultrasound study to look for abnormal valves. Abnormal valves in the leg veins cause blood to pool in the legs. This condition is called Venous insufficiency.
3. It can be caused by several different vein disorders, but it’s most often caused by either blood clots or varicose veins.
4. The valves in normal veins prevent reverse blood flow, so the blood does not pool in the legs.
5. If the valves are functioning normally, it is called a competent valve. If blood is able to pass backwards through the valve (abnormal) it is called incompetent.
6. Your treatment options depend on what’s causing the condition, but your doctor might recommend compression stockings and prescription medications. You may also benefit from a vein ablation procedure, which can be done in the office with little down time.
B. Lower Extremity Arterial Duplex Ultrasound
1. This is the main study we perform for patients with PAD (Peripheral Artery Disease) which is caused by a lack of blood flow to the legs and feet.
2. In addition, blood pressure readings will be taken of the ankles and your arms.
3. These ultrasounds are performed to evaluate for narrowing or blockage (build up of plaque) in the arteries of the legs.
4. Based on the results of the Arterial Duplex, your doctor may recommend an angiogram, which is dye study which can be used to evaluate and treat blockages in the leg arteries.
5. At South Valley Vascular, Angiograms are performed in the office surgery center by a highly specialized team, using the most advanced equipment and technology.
What do I need to know to prepare for my Ultrasound exam?
For most ultrasound exams, you will be asked to lay on the exam table on your back with hands at your sides or on your stomach. For the standing venous reflux exam, you will be asked to stand. While standing, the ultrasound tech will apply a pressure cuff to your leg squeezing gently. For leg ultrasounds, we will provide a pair of shorts for you to change into. You may wear your own shorts, but keep in mind ultrasound uses a liquid gel through the duration of your exam and some may get on clothing.